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In the Papers

Top tech news from the papers

In The Papers 31 March

  • Collison brothers raise funds for Stripe
  • Xilinx acquires Belfast telecoms firm
  • Facebook launches Deals in Ireland
  • Google explores 'social search'
  • Tablet sales to boost annual IT spend

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ENN Click


Digital media blog from ENN Content Services

What do you do? You have 10 seconds to reply.

Attend any mixer or networking event, and you’ll need to answer this question eventually. So it’s surprising that most of us are so bad at explaining ourselves.

But get your answer right and you’ll find you use it again and again: for in-person meetups, but also for every piece of comms you create, from your “about us” web page to your company press releases.

The what-do-you-do question has been on my mind because this week I’m off to my 20th Harvard reunion — I’ve got classmates who can answer this question with conversation-stopping replies like “I’m the COO of Facebook” — but I believe anyone can learn to give their own succinct, confident reply to That Question, one that will start conversations and open interesting new opportunities.

Here’s some guidance if you struggle a bit when when trying to find the words to describe yourself.

It’s not about you: Challenge yourself to write one sentence about your company from the perspective of your target customer. Focus on the effect that your product or service has on your customers. For example, I’ve recently stopped saying, “We’re a team of copywriters; we write the words for brochures and websites.” *Yawn*. Now, it’s, “We write promotional material for companies who are too busy to do it themselves, or who struggle to do it well because they’re too close to it.” If you’re a software company, give me the bits and bytes detail later; on first meeting, I want to know what effect your technical brilliance will have on my business. Think about your customer’s problems and motivations and make them central to how you describe yourself.

It’s a message, not information: The first way many companies think of describing themselves is with facts: locations, employees, years in business, awards won. But facts are the last thing I care about when I’m getting my first impression of you. Your goal is to make me care, to inspire me to call/email you, or fill out a form, or download something, or make a purchase then and there. I’ll only act if your message moves me to do so. Think about it this way: your message = information + inspiration. If the question is, “Why should I choose you?” then your message is the answer: “Because you’re someone who really can make my annual tax return nightmare go away.” “Because you’ve designed your holiday theme park for what families like mine really want.” “Because you know your stuff and are truly focussed on what I want.”

He who hesitates is lost: A boring or self-involved answer to the what-do-you-do question is bad, but a pregnant pause is worse. Your listener will fill your seconds of silence with all kinds of conjecture about the competence, confidence or legality of whatever it is you finally say you do. If you hesitate, maybe it’s because your company has changed over the years and your old description doesn’t ring true anymore. Or maybe — and I’ve done this myself — you’re letting your current contracts and customers define you by continuing to do a kind of work you don’t care for anymore. (You’re not going to wow anyone with an inspiring summary of your work if it doesn’t even inspire you.)

If you’re trying to do something different with your business, hire a copywriter and they’ll help you create that central statement, and all the supporting marketing materials, that will inspire and guide your messaging. It’s tricky, but both myself and other experienced copywriters have done it time and again: write about a new business (“exciting!”) as if it’s not newborn (“immature”). The secret is to focus on your expertise, the market demand for xyz service, and of course your commitment to customer service excellence (which goes 90% of the way towards selling anything, you may have noticed).

Go on — tell me what you do. Put your customer’s need at the heart of your response and you won’t go far wrong. Remember the reason we often forget someone’s name seconds after we’ve been introduced: we were thinking about saying our own name when we should have been listening. We humans are self-absorbed creatures; if you’re the company who goes beyond that instinct to look outwards to others, it’s the first step in setting yourself apart.

Sheila Averbuch — ENNclick

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What do you do? You have 10 seconds to reply. is a post from: ENNclick - Expert copywriters in Dublin, Cork and Edinburgh.

What do you do? You have 10 seconds to reply. is a post from: ENNclick - Expert copywriters in Dublin, Cork and Edinburgh.

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Weekly Digest

Top IT stories of the week
in association with Vodafone Ireland

Weekly Digest Issue No. 559

  • Good week on the jobs front
  • Collisons do it again
  • All change at the top for Twitter
  • eBay ramps up competition with Amazon

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Web Pick

23 March 2011 by Ralph Averbuch

Mozilla Firefox 4 - It’s been a long time coming but now it’s here. At time of writing the latest generation of the Firefox browser, version 4, has been downloaded over 10 million times and 24 hours have yet to pass. Firefox was a breath of fresh air when it first arrived into a browser market in stagnation due to the near total dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Slowly that began to change as Firefox proved it could be done better. At it’s peak Firefox had 24 percent of the browser market, doing relatively better in Europe than the USA. That’s now more like 21pc but the big loser has been IE. Today we have three strong contenders in the recently launched IE9 (Vista and Win7 only) Google’s Chrome and, of course, Firefox. That revival in browser competition is thanks in great part to the not-for-profit team behind Firefox and this latest version will continue that trend.

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